You may have seen my recent Instagram post on Conversation Pits, a modernist design element now completely out of fashion. Pity.
Much in fashion however is the Brise-Soleil – French for "breaking sun" and pronounced [breeze solay] – which in its original meaning is a wall with geometric cutouts or shading elements, preventing direct sunlight hitting a building while allowing ventilation. It might be a separating wall in a garden, or a curtain wall of a building, or even a system of louvers.
More recently, the term has also been adopted for any kind of shading structure allowing ventilation, be it vertical or horizontal – though for the latter, I'd disagree with calling it a brise-soleil.
Other typical design elements you'll find in modernist architecture I explain here.
I want to share two useful tips I learned from my own experience: about maintaining water quality of an indoor fountain and about pest control.
Related to modern architecture: not completely, more like "somewhat". Interesting and useful: Yes. – Still with me? Please read on.
It doesn't matter if you live in Florida or anywhere else in the sunbelt, or even in areas with winter freezes – household pests, the polite way to describe yucky crawly things like Palmetto bugs, German cockroaches or a whole army of sugar ants, are a fact of life. They were here long before us. And I believe they will be here when the human race has left the planet.
But: I don't live in their space, and I don't want them to live in mine.
As a former commercial landlord, former property manager and 30+ year-Florida resident, I know monthly pest control is a necessity, so much it's in the Florida Landlord and Tenant statutes. But the services I tried were not very impressive. Except for my newest discovery: Ortho Home Defense.
After successfully using up a 24oz/700 cc bottle "Ortho Home Defense Max Insect Killer Spray for Indoor and Home Perimeter" – can that name get any longer? – I reached for the Big Momma: a nice round 5 litres (1.3 gal) container of Home Defense, with electric (!) spray wand. Yeehaw!
Through business travel and forgetfulness I found out the stuff still kills even after three or more months, and even through repeated floor mopping and cleaning. My rating: Highly recommended!
(Available at the usual suspects such as Lowe's, Home Depot, Amazon etc. On Amazon, I recently saw the 1.3 gal with wand for nearly the same price as a 24 oz spray bottle, under $17)
Indoor Water Fountains
Not only do they provide the soothing sound of flowing water, they also play a role in improving your home's Feng Shui: The presence of moving water fills the requirements of the Shui or water component.
My own little water feature was in my office for 10+ years, until the fountain finally completely crumbled and disintegrated. I kept the pump until I created a minimalist modern fountain from a straight-walled clear glass bowl and pebbles I picked from the Starnberger See, the lake near Munich where I'm from.
Maintain water quality was a bit of a drag, mostly due to algae multiplying like little bunny rabbits overnight, until I found the by far best solution: purified water with salt.
No vinegar, no distilled water, no chlorine or any other additive are as simple or effective. Even after a three months travel pause during Covid, where I had turned the pump off and covered the vessel with clear food wrap: no slime, no algae, nothing.
The simple solution: I fill an old soda bottle (0.75 cc) with purified water from my fridge's filtration system, mix a small pinch of salt with it, store the bottle in the fridge and use that solution to keep the fountain at the right level. I still replace the water every three months or so, and YMMV, but I couldn't be happier with the overall water quality.
Thank you for reading this post. Any feedback on my two tips?
Tobias Kaiser works as an independent real estate broker and consultant in Florida since 1990. Always putting his clients' interest first, he specialises in modern Florida homes and architecture, as well as net leased investments.